June Compassion Offering: Casa Alitas

Casa Alitas

The compassion offering for June 2024 is Casa Alitas. Casa Alitas is a non-profit, immigrant welcome center near the border in Tucson, Arizona. Casa Alitas provides a warm welcome, food, clothing, and shelter for a few days for legal asylum seekers who have crossed the border. Casa Alitas provides services to 1,000 to 1,500 guests every day.

The ORUCC connection with Casa Alitas was prompted by a mission trip to the border in 2015. Since then, we have maintained a hands-on connection, through compassion offerings, clothing drives and volunteer time at Casa Alitas.

During the last year in particular, despite unpredictable funding allocations from the federal government, Casa Alitas was the only welcome center on the border that maintained its capacity to welcome all who arrived at its doors.

Casa Alitas needs our help now more than ever. Funds that we provide will keep people from being dropped off as street releases in the city of Tucson. All funds will provide direct services to immigrant families. Funds will

  • Pay for clothing and food provided by Casa Alitas;
  • Buy items for play bags for children; and
  • Pay for transportation to reunite families who have been separated at the border.

Please give generously. Thank you.


You can make a donation by check or online. If by check, on the memo line, please write “compassion” and mail to ORUCC, 1501 Gilbert Road, Madison, WI 53711, or donate online from our website.

The link is https://orucc.org/contribute/support/

May Compassion Offering: Middle East Children’s Alliance

Showing Compassion for Children in Gaza

Our May Compassion Offering —  Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) — was identified and recommended by the ORUCC Palestine Justice Mission Team. After researching and considering many options, the Team unanimously approved sponsoring MECA as the Compassion Offering, in light of the current, urgent situation in Gaza.  MECA has staff on site in Gaza to respond immediately and directly upon receiving our support. 

MECA was founded in 1988 in Berkeley, California as a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to deliver vital supplies and humanitarian services to children in Gaza.  As MECA’s work has progressed over the years, its activities have included providing direct aid to refugee children in Lebanon and Iraq; water projects in Gaza that bring clean water for children and their families;  assistance to community organizations that help meet Palestinian children’s needs; scholarships for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; and educational/cultural programs in the USA to increase understanding about the lives of children in the Middle East and the impact of US foreign policy on people in the region.

Compassion Offering funds raised in May will be directed entirely to MECA’s emergency appeal for the humanitarian needs of Gazan children and their families. Our donations will quickly provide food, water, healthcare and shelter for children in Gaza who are hungry, injured, orphaned and/or homeless.

MECA video:  https://youtu.be/dVVbRQIocKk

The Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation

Rev. Diane Dulin, member of ORUCC, traveled to the West Bank and Washington DC February 26-March 6. The following is Diane’s report. Read, pray, and consider sharing the link with a friend.

And some of the Pharisees in the multitudes said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:39-40

The Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation to the West Bank and Washington, D.C. consisted of 23 American Christians – faith leaders (both lay and ordained) representing 12 different denominations – who traveled to Palestine to hear the people of that place describe their reality and send us home with a direct and urgent message. Among our delegation were four UCC participants: our trip leader Rev. Dr. Michael Spath of Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Stephanie Gilstrom of Olympia, Washington; Sarah Klokowski of Belmont, Massachusetts; and Rev. Diane Dulin of Madison, Wisconsin.  

Organized by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace and sponsored by eight nationally recognized advocacy groups1, our delegation met with religious and civil society leaders, Christians and Muslims and Jews, community leaders and everyday residents. We visited a refugee camp, a privately owned farm, churches, non-profit and advocacy NGOs, and public spaces such as the Apartheid Wall and Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah. We passed through military checkpoints and traveled both Israeli-only highways and Palestinian roads of dirt and stones. 

The message given to us by those we met is this: “The genocide in Gaza is unspeakably horrific. And the violence and strangulation of daily life in the West Bank is crippling. Tell this to your elected officials and public servants in Washington. Tell it to your church leaders. Tell it to your communities back home.”

From those we met, we heard words of fearfulness, anger, grief, and discouragement. Palestinians living in the West Bank feel invisible, abandoned, dehumanized. 

Over and over again, the people we encountered thanked us for coming. They told their stories trusting we, in turn, would return home to speak the truth.

While in the West Bank, we shared lunch at the Tent of Nations farm, owned and worked by the Nasser family, whose deed to the land originated during the Ottoman Empire, long before the founding of the State of Israel. During our meal, two Israeli settlers with semi-automatic rifles strode through the grounds. Upon seeing the two settlers, Daoud Nasser rose, saying, “This is private property.” In response, the settlers made a sweeping gesture as if to take in the entire hillside and proclaimed, “All this belongs to us.” Later, during our advocacy in Washington, D.C., we informed our legislators about settler violence and impunity in the West Bank – always a problem, exponentially worse now, and off the radar for most of the world.

We met with Adam Bouloukos, UNRWA Director for the West Bank.  He told us the humanitarian disaster in Gaza is worse than anything he has seen throughout his long career of first-hand experience with war and disaster. He is worried UNRWA will cease to operate very soon without a reversal of the brutal actions by the United States and other nations to cancel UNRWA funding due to accusations (without evidence) that 12 staff members (out of 13,000 staff in Gaza) were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas militias. In our meetings with elected representatives in Washington, D.C., we pleaded for resumption of funding for UNRWA.

In Occupied East Jerusalem we visited the Silwan neighborhood. We stood by the rubble of Fahkri Abu Ziab’s family home of generations. His prized home had been demolished by Israel two weeks earlier, on Ash Wednesday, despite legal documents that prove his ownership. He suspects his home was chosen for demolition due to his community leadership and non-violent resistance. Others in the Silwan neighborhood have seen their homes destroyed by Israel to make room for a biblical theme park.

We met with Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, and worshiped at his church on Sunday morning. Like many others we met, Isaac was perplexed by the brutal, heartless disregard for Palestinian life now on full display by our country. We Americans lavishly fund this genocide with one hand and drop a paltry number of meals from the sky with the other hand. Pastor Isaac was discouraged and angry, insisting that our churches need to do more to oppose this great wrong. In Washington, D.C. we made the case for following US law which prohibits providing military aid to countries engaged in human rights violations.

The Washington, D.C. portion of our journey expanded in size as area activists descended to join us in advocacy and public witness. UCC PIN chair Rev. Dr. Allie Perry joined us for this political advocacy. In addition to our visits with legislators, we held a vigil in front of the White House, and some of us engaged in nonviolent direct action. The next night, some gathered again, joining other protesters to cause a traffic delay and rerouting of the President’s motorcade on its way to the State of the Union speech.  

On our final evening together, we gathered for interfaith worship, joined by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who wept while describing the children of Gaza killed, maimed, orphaned, and starved. Rev. Graylan Hagler of Plymouth UCC in Washington gave us a powerful commission to prove faithful to our promise of conveying the message we received from Palestinians we met – the Living Stones of Palestine. A final benediction was delivered powerfully by Rev. Shari Prestemon, Associate General Minister and Co-Executive of Global Ministries.                                      


1 Sponsors of the Stones Cry Out Solidarity Delegation:

ORUCC Faithful Action for Justice


Faithful Action for Justice

Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ

April 2024

Faithful Action for Justice provides announcements and information from ORUCC’s Justice missions (Care of Creation, Immigration Justice, Heart Room, Racial Justice, Christian Witness and Service, Palestine Justice).

Nobody can do everything. Saying yes to some things requires saying no to others. Our health and obligations limit us. As you read, briefly celebrate and pray for people doing something you will not join. As you feel called, click on links or reach out to a project’s contact person to learn more.

Our justice mission teams provide information on issues that may be controversial, speaking to the congregation but not for the congregation.

In this issue

  • Palestine Justice. Check out our resources
  • Immigration Justice. Report on the trip to the border by Pastor Julia, Ruthanne Landsness’s five weeks at Casa Alitas, and current issues.
  • MOSES. Forming an ORUCC core team, update on prison lockdowns and call for releasing those incarcerated on crimeless revocations, statement from WISDOM Executive Committee calling for ceasefire in Gaza.

Palestine Justice

From the Palestine Justice Mission Team

Thank you for joining us April 7 for a discussion with Usama Nicola.

Want to learn more? Check out our Recommended Resources at https://orucc.org/justice/palestine.

New members are welcome. Contact Tom Beilman or Diane Dulin with any questions.

Immigration Justice News

Our Immigration Justice Team chair, Ruthanne Landsness, returned from 5 weeks in Tucson and Casa Alitas right before Easter. Ruthanne volunteers at Casa Alitas, the immigrant welcome center in Tucson, AZ. She reports on two highlights in particular during her time there.


The first highlight was hosting Pastor Julia for a 6-day visit in Tucson. During her stay, Julia engaged in many of the same activities as those of the ORUCC mission trip in 2015, plus some extras. This included distributing clothing to children and families at Casa Alitas, traveling to Nogales, Mexico to greet asylum seekers waiting for permissions to enter the United States, and meetings with UCC Pastors Randy Mayer and Delle McCormick, UCC clergy deeply involved in immigration justice work. Julia’s reflections on her time of “seeing Jesus at the border” are beautifully captured in her Palm Sunday sermon available on the ORUCC website.


The second highlight was being involved in advocacy for continued federal funding of Casa Alitas and other humanitarian aid centers at the border. Due to the failure of federal legislative action, federal funding for Casa Alitas was scheduled to terminate on April 1, 2024, forcing the closure of all but one of the Casa Alitas shelters and, even more importantly, prompting the street-release by Border Patrol of at least 1,000 people per day onto the streets of Tucson. This was all amidst vitriolic theatre and harassment from right-wing activists, including our own Wisconsin Representative. Fortunately, after having prepared for a worst-case scenario, President Biden signed an appropriation that grants funding through the end of June 2024. A big sigh of relief all round, coupled with renewed strategies for funding beyond June 2024.


Please use the following links for information about the abated funding crisis and a look at immigration policy from the left and from the right.

Link 1 (Wisconsin State Journal article about attacks on groups aiding immigrants at the border, including Casa Alitas)

Link2 (New York Times article about illegal border crossings)

News from MOSES

MOSES is formally affiliated with WISDOM, a statewide social justice organization. As part of the WISDOM network in Wisconsin, MOSES is fully invested in WISDOM’s actions.

ORUCC is Forming a MOSES Core Team

The Racial Justice Mission Team has received brief reports on the goals and activities of MOSES since ORUCC became an official member in 2022.  Last month RJMT agreed to create a MOSES Core Team, which will initially meet quarterly for one hour. We are happy to report that six people have indicated willingness to participate thus far. The team will dig deeper into learning about the work of MOSES. Ultimately, the team will advise active MOSES participants on questions of MOSES advocacy work to provide an ORUCC perspective.

Pam Oliver, as ORUCC’s representative to the MOSES Leadership Board, and Barbie Jackson, who also attends the board meetings, will receive WISDOM training in May about how to support effective Core Teams within our congregation.  They hope this will assist in developing a deeper engagement in this important work within the ORUCC community. Watch for scheduling in future announcements.

MOSES & WISDOM Update on Prison Lockdowns

Last month WISDOM requested all affiliates throughout the state to issue a statement calling for an end to the Prison Lockdowns. In response, MOSES delivered this press release to 34 media outlets in the Dane County area.  It states in part:

“As Governor Evers looks for a new Corrections Secretary, he needs to make clear that the first priority must be to close GBCI and WCI. The Administration has the authority to do this. About 5,000 people in Wisconsin prisons are there because of a crimeless revocation — they broke a rule of supervision or parole, but did not commit a new crime. The Department of Corrections has complete discretion over whether or not such people are sent to prison. Other states have drastically reduced their prison populations just by cutting back on crimeless revocations — even Wisconsin reduced its prison numbers significantly during COVID in this way. There are fewer than 2,000 people imprisoned in GBCI and WCI combined. Just a 40% reduction in crimeless revocations would enable Wisconsin to completely depopulate both of these prisons.”

WISDOM Executive Committee Message Calls for Immediate, Permanent Ceasefire

WISDOM’s Executive Committee issued this statement to all members of its statewide network. It states in part:

“Normally, as the WISDOM Executive Committee we do not get involved in issues of foreign policy, where we have no expertise. Regarding the current enormous loss of life and humanitarian nightmare in Gaza, we feel a need to make an exception. . . In the same way that the decades of unjust treatment of Palestinians cannot justify many of the actions of October 7, the actions of October 7 cannot justify the brutal bombardment and starvation of people in Gaza in the subsequent five months. There must be an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

Please contact Pam Oliver or Barbie Jackson if you would like to learn more about MOSES.

About our Missions

Interested? Reach out to learn more about our justice teams and projects. Our mission teams welcome your time, talent and energy!

In addition, our Christian Witness and Service ministry connects members to a variety of opportunities to support justice activities (chair:LuAnn Greiner)

Let us love and care for ourselves and each other as we work together for justice and mercy.